Demarcated at the same time at the Douro Valley around 1756 (basically the 2nd EVER demarcated region for wine) by Marquis de Pombal, the Prime Minister of Portugal at the time. Due to his influence it was very popular for the first 50 years of its establishment (it was part of the very first Christie’s Wine Auction in 1769 along with Burgundy & Port, and was sought after by Thomas Jefferson and other Wine Enthusiasts). But in the late 20th century this was a region on the verge of extinction until the Department of Agriculture and the Municipality of Oeiras stepped in to protect the vineyards. At 25 hectares, Carcavelos is the smallest wine appellation in Portugal & is today amongst the rarest of wines and a fortified wine unlike any other.
Traditionally, the wines were fermented dry and subsequently fortified with vinho abafado (a fermented grape must, preserved by the addition of alcohol). Arresting the fermentation via mutage is the common practice. The resulting wine is typically 18-20% abv, with 80-100 g/l residual sugar, similar in sweetness to Port or a Boal Madeira. Elevage can range from 5 to 20 years, the wine becoming oxidative in character, with barrels more or less topped-up. Both vintage and blended age-statement are made.